Metaverse is, along with Web 3.0, a broad notion of a new iteration of the internet with new ways of real time interaction as well as new opportunities for business. Metaverses are 3D digital worlds that are built to create much richer user experiences.
Metaverse is a concept of a 3D digital world with virtual spaces where people can interact as avatars. It can be a place to meet other avatars, do shopping, work, learn or even do taxes. - Anything we know as “reality”. It is also a simulated digital environment that applies a wide range of technologies to create more immersive experiences. One example is digital twin, which is a real-time digital copy of a physical object, system or process.
There are plenty of enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence for real-time language translation, spatial computing for interaction through gestures, and virtual reality, which is becoming core for creating immersive experiences. In terms of commercial transactions in the metaverse, block chain technology allows ownership of virtual items through cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens. Establishing metaverse is the orchestration of above technologies to create “next level” experiences in virtual spaces.
The optimistic proponents believe that metaverse is the next generation of the internet, digital platform and online interactions, eventually changing the way we communicate, learn, and play. A study by McKinsey estimates that the young generations will spend between 4-5 hours daily in the metaverse, and the tech market is projected at $225 billion by 2030.
Due to its immersive experience and capability to create a full-fledged economy, the process of sales and marketing will advance while accelerating business growth all-around. There are virtual humans showing up in advertisements, top tier brands creating virtual shops and items, famous singers doing concert in metaverse platforms. There are already high demands in consumer side also, purchasing virtual real estate, paintings, and outfits for their avatars.
With VR and AR embedded metaverse, learning and training is also transforming and becoming more adaptive. Large companies in the world are using VR glasses and joysticks to train their technicians, doctors, and teachers. 3D simulations are more efficient, effective, greener, and safer as it does not expose learners to risks or require travels.
Other significant area that metaverse will impact is entertainment. Generation Z, who will be the largest consumer in a decade, enjoys spending time as an avatar communicating with others regardless of location, age and language. Virtual concerts of famous singers are already happening attended by millions of avatars. 3D motion capturing gadget and technology are enabling virtual characters act like real humans in movies and animations.
These applications are just a few to mention. When the era of metaverse actually arrives, we will be able to witness more applications across verticals.
From the policy perspective, the Ministry of Science and ICT announced a pan-government strategy on metaverse as a part of Korean Digital New Deal 2.0 initiative in January 2022. The four major objectives of this strategy are to reinvigorate the ecosystem for metaverse platforms, to nurture professionals, to foster companies, and to set up a safe and ethical environment for all users.
From the corporate perspective, the Korean government with private sectors have created “Metaverse Alliance” of which purpose is to activate cooperation between members in regards to technologies and to co-develop business projects that will be supported by the government up to $26 million to roll out. Already close to one thousand companies and institutions have joined, including Samsung Electronics, SK Telecom and Hyundai Motor.
There are two main metaverse platforms in Korea – one is Ifland by SK Telecom, the largest telecommunication company in the country, and Zepeto by Naver known as ‘Korean Google’. The number of Monthly Active Users of these two platforms together is over 20 million. Meanwhile, Samsung announced the launch of its own version of metaverse and VR headset under the name of Galaxy.
Two large universities in Seoul, KAIST and Sogang University, have received 6 billion KRW this year from the Ministry of Science and Technology for their Metaverse Convergence Graduate School Support Project that is dedicated to knowledge sharing and R&D. This investment is given over the span of 6 years and shows that South Korea sees the potential of the integration of metaverse into the educational system as well.
Metaverse is one of the most popular verticals to invest in now when it comes to startups. VA Corporation, a virtual production studio startup, received 100 billion KRW of Series A investment in March 2022, becoming unicorn company in the shortest period among competitors.
According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, the government pledged to invest $465 million on metaverse this year and to invest $2.2 billion by 2025 in new industries enabled by hyper-connectivity such as metaverse and block chain. Moreover, 220 metaverse companies in co-operations with the government are additionally planning to assist start-ups and train 40.000 metaverse professionals through a Korean metaverse academy, to eventually further South Korea as the fifth largest metaverse market by 2026.
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Innovation Centre Denmark in Seoul is connecting Danish companies and R&D stakeholders with the Korean ecosystem around metaverse. In 2022, 10 Danish companies came to Seoul to learn more about Metaverse and its application in i.e. fashion and training. The opportunity to meet and match with potential collaboration partners was a step further towards working with a Metaverse lens and aspiration and, based on the feedback, was a valuable concretization for the companies. The innovation centre will continue to work with Metaverse as a headline and will dig much deeper into applications across sectors.